RUMFORD – Selectmen voted 5-0 Thursday night to support an application for a $250,000 grant to fix old housing, revitalize the downtown and pursue other economic endeavors.

If voters agree with the plan when they go to the polls Thursday, Jan. 15, and the town gets the money, it could arrive by July 1, Economic Development Committee Chairman Phil Blampied told selectmen.

About 10 people attended the hearing on the Community Development Block Grant application.

Blampied warned that there are many towns competing for the four available awards so he plans to identify properties ahead of time for which the money will be used to better the town’s chances of getting the award.

According to an information sheet at the hearing, housing stock in Rumford’s core districts is approaching 100 years old and needs rehabilitation. The most urgent need is upgrading them to meet the fire code.

There is also a need to help low- to moderate-income owner-occupants of historically significant brick and mortar duplexes in Strathglass Park make structurally critical repairs.

The grant can be used to improve deteriorated residential and business districts and local economic conditions, provided conditions and incentives for further public and private investments; and foster partnerships between groups of municipalities, state and federal entities and the private sector to address common community and economic development problems.

Additionally, it can be used to minimize the development of sprawl and support revitalization in downtown areas, but Blampied said it can’t be used to acquire and demolish buildings.

This CDBG project would provide grants to 100 percent of the cost of structurally critical repairs to low- to moderate-income owner-occupants and address other upgrades necessary to meet minimum living needs.

However, Blampied said that the maximum allotment per property is $20,000; $30,000 if the person can demonstrate the building has a code conformance issue.

“I’m not trying to present this as a final solution to all of our problems in this town. This is just one step to take,” Blampied said.

Owners of four properties have already contacted him to be part of the project.

“We will have a first-come, first-served policy on who we accept into the program,” he added.

The project will provide grants of 50 percent of the cost of upgrades needed for landlords with buildings having a minimum of 51 percent low- to moderate-income tenants in meeting required fire code upgrades and other minimum living standards.

Voters are being asked to OK the town’s 10-percent match of $25,000. Blampied said that $5,000 of that will be taken from in-kind services, while the balance will be taken from money not spent in the current year economic development budget.

The match will not increase spending or taxes, since it’s money that was already raised and appropriated last year.

On Wednesday night, planners determined that the project fits with the comprehensive plan and doesn’t violate any local ordinances.

Pending approval next week at the polls, officials would have until March 3 to assemble the application, Blampied said. Officials won’t learn if Rumford won the grant until April.

“If we get the grant, we will need to create an advisory committee with citizens in town and pass a variety of resolutions. We will also have to work with Community Concepts and the state to meet (grant) requirements,” Blampied added.


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